Boston's Black Beach is mining the annals of East Coast rock history in the search for its future. Taking cues from Massachusettes progenitors such as The Modern Lovers, Dinosaur Jr., and even contemporary basement scene-mates like Vundabar, Black Beach is weaponizing a sound—garage rock—that many say has lost its edge.
Their new video for "Nothing's Golden," the final track off their upcoming release, Play Loud, Die Vol 2, echoes the song's minimalist approach, all while harking back to the genre's trademark loud-soft dynamics. "The video and song kinda explain [the] initial shock of learning that something isn't as good as it appears on the surface, and the way people tend to either be naive to how things actually are or choose to ignore them," Steven Instasi, the band's frontman, told AdHoc. The track's understated verses explode into propulsive choruses, accompanied by images of worms crawling around in the caved-in skulls of baby dolls. The genius behind the clip is Boston-based filmmaker Andrew Gibson, who has filmed videos for a number of bands including Ian Sweet, Free Pizza, Nice Guys, and Midriffs. "[Gibson and Black Beach] went and found a spot in the woods by the Charles River and just banged [the video] out" in a day, said Instasi.
A year out from their formation, Poppies has turned heads as a band with a knack at concealment. Under the band's unassuming pop lullabies lie lyrics that point to the darkness hidden in what we assume to be comfortable and adorable. That knack is on full display in the band's new video for "Devin," a standout track off their Good EP released in June. The track follows the titular boy, a troublemaker for his family and well as those around him. While the boy's bad antics are seen as common at first, passed off as "boys will be boys," his behavior quickly grows out of hand, compounding and following him as he grows into someone that is hardly recognizable, even to his own mother ("sometimes I feel like he's not mine, that boy is Rosemary's child"). While on its surface the song remains purely focused on the boy himself, Poppies seems to be offering up a storybook lesson—that tolerating rotten behavior from boys without an attempt to change them for the better only leads them to grow into rotten men.
The animations for the video itself match Poppies' interests precisely. Poppies says the video "was hand drawn and inked by our good friend Annie Zhao. She was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch, Run Wrake, and Lord of the Flies." The inspiration of Run Wrake seems particularly obvious, as the video's children's story animals playing with one another soon lose their heads, literally and figuratively, and take to playing tug of war with one of their friend's. Things soon take increasingly disturbing turns as the whole scene becomes more and more akin to a pagan ritual than a day at the playground. Just as with so much of their other work, Poppies is a band that shows us just how dark things can be under rosy surfaces.
It takes a real struggle not to be pulled into the orbit of Brooklyn trio Honey's heavy, haunting psych rock. From the moment the opening chord of new single "New Moody Judy," which AdHoc is premiering today, rings out it serves as a call to arms, a warning of trouble rapidly approaching on the horizon. A fuzzy and chugging bass line and a guitar, which serves more as an alarm than a lead, move us along quickly to assess the danger at hand—the first and perennial danger, love.
Honey's Cory Feierman says the track stemmed from being "in love with a girl in a city I hadn't really spent any time in. It wasn't the first time. [I] Got locked outside her house and stuck on the street, no wallet, no phone, no idea where I was. Walked until the sun came up and I wasn't sure what love was anymore. It wasn't the first time." Reflecting back the same fervor of a love that one "can't get enough" of, the track burns with an intensity that is, as with any real passion, at once both chaotic and controlled. Ultimately, Honey bemoan having not "had more time" with their love and for wasting their time, but a track like this reveals that all past loves leave burns.
Lina Tullgren writes honest and emotional songs, songs that seek to let us in so that we might heal. Her debut EP Wishlist, re-released last year via Captured Tracks, brought us into her world with its atmosphere of equal parts melancholic nostalgia and bright eyed optimism. Tullgren does what many other artists only wish to do, and achieve with varying levels of success, she produces a space that requires us to be vulnerable. Experiencing the intimacy of her lyrics and the stripped-down songwriting of her first EP is like returning to a childhood home after having been gone for years, feeling the weight of its changes weigh on one's self while at the same time catching the glimpses of the happiness that the same space still holds.
While her newest LP, Won, sees Lina pushing forward towards a new and more confident voice as a songwriter, her ability to craft spaces for us to experience intimacy and vulnerability has not waned. Her video for "Red Dawn," which AdHoc is premiering today, makes this readily apparent, as it has Lina asking us what it means to "wear your heart on your sleeve." Like much of Won, the track has a larger sound than the songs on Wishlist due to the addition of Tullgren's new backing band, but the video's barn studio setting still reveals Lina's desire to remain intimate with her audience. In a series of questions, Lina told us about her interest in the space between hope and heartbreak, her belief in love, her love of joking around with "indie music kids," and her desire for us all to remain vulnerable.
AdHoc: A lot of your writing seems to focus on the intersections between heartbreak and solace, loss and hope, what is it about that space between those feelings that interests you, perhaps especially at this moment in our political climate?
The time in between, lost in the balance as we change and develop as people, has always interested me ever since I learned how to watch people. I was very shy as a kid so a lot of my time was spent not speaking and watching my parents and their friends and how they lived and talked. I was very fortunate to grow up with creative adult figures who would treat me as an equal and be honest with me. One of the reasons I focus so obsessively on that time in between is because change never fails to deeply affect me in visceral, profound ways, and I can see how others relate to that as well. A lot of art is made about love: the subject is typically focused on a relationship in its most positive form or about the ending of that relationship. Sure those things are charged and filled with beautiful raw emotions, but the focus becomes more about the other person and less about the self, which is simply not as interesting or real to me. If I'm going to write these songs and put my own life process out there in this format, I want it to be accessible to the humans I'm singing it to who are right there in front of me. A pure connection. I'd like to think we always learn from changes, from the “intersections” that exist. [And] sure, this can also connect to politics because there is an insane amount of upheaval that’s been in progress for some time now. I don’t claim to be a political writer in any way, but interpretation is everything and though the songs on this impending record are not necessarily written about the current scenarios playing out in the country, certain images and feelings can be applied and transferred all over. You can find it if you look for it.
What was the recording process for this video like? I notice that a fellow Tullgren, Max Tullgren did the video work and that your longtime friend and collaborator Ty Ueda did the audio (in addition to playing guitar alongside you here), could you talk about working with them both?
I was rehearsing with my band at Ty's barn studio in Barrington, NH when we decided to shoot this video. My 16-year-old brother, Max Tullgren, lives close by in South Berwick, Maine which is where I grew up. In addition to being “longtime friend and collaborator,” Ty actively shoots film and video and also did all the editing on this one. Obviously he could not shoot it due to the fact that he had to play guitar in it but luckily Max is great with a camera himself so he was able to swing by and help us. This is also the studio where we recorded and mixed all of Won.
One of the “Red Dawn”’s lyrics is “no time, got no time to waste with love” and in an interview with Impose last year you defined love as “DEAD,” how does not believing in love or in its importance to you change making music that is so recognizably vulnerable?
It should be known that I'm an incredibly sarcastic person and if I did say that love was “dead” in another interview it was likely done in jest with intentions to disarm all these serious snobby indie music kids. I'm not calling ALL of you snobs! But some of you just cannot take a joke. I do believe in love and its importance quite a lot, in fact, for I am simply a true jokester with a full heart. As said above, the music I create IS incredibly vulnerable and I amount that to the belief in love that I hold close. As I get a little older, losing and gaining new people in my life all the time, I feel less inclined to run from strong human emotion as I did in the past. does that make sense?
Totally. One final question: what does it mean to you to “wear your heart on your sleeve?” Since you put out the Wishlist EP your music has been described as vulnerable and intimate, is the new record a pushing away from that feeling in an effort to become more assertive or is the lyric meant to question what it is to be vulnerable at all in a world that seems to be an antithesis to that vulnerability?
That’s an incredibly thoughtful question and I appreciate that. I would give a “yes” to both parts of that question. I think there is an incredible amount of cynicism-sometimes unwarranted and sometimes not-and lack of communication in young people these days and I've been observing it progress over time in a way I find to be difficult to interact with. that’s not to say that I’m not cynical myself and I also don’t claim to be an expert in communication, but I will say that I do actively try to practice the wearing of the heart on one's sleeve in friendships, intimate relationships, fleeting interactions, [and] what have you because there is too much hurt and doom in this world for us to not be completely open about how we feel about one another. Call me a total loser corn-ball if you want. And please go and kiss or hug all of your friends and parents and cousins! right now!
In their new video for "Crush," Fits and video director/producer Molly Soda set out to depict both the burning desire, as well as the crushing self-analysis that comes with a serious crush. The blink-and-you'll-miss-it track is a power-pop gem. In under a minute, palm-muted guitars build into pulsating drums and bass until the entire track boils over with the refrain "the thing that you said, it wasn't O.K., not back then."
The band's own Nicholas Cummins says that "the song... can be taken a few different ways; it's about desire and crushing on someone, having a crush, but also about over thinking every wrong thing you may have said to them and being crushed under that self-analysis. For the video, Molly started a mood board that we ended up collaborating on, playing on those two meanings and how to visualize crushing and being crushed. The end result reads a bit like a fetish video but I'm cool with that. I also want to thank Amanda Laskey and Felix Walworth for lending their body parts and getting covered in cake and gum for me."
Everyone's experienced a crush like this. A flame of desire that proves so virulent that it threatens to tear you apart limb by limb. However, the journey towards fulfilling that desire can be its own crushing path. Fits know about such crushes all too well, and their video for the track reveals the folly of our love-struck ways through the only images that suffice, burning cakes and bouquets.
With the technology behind electronic instruments changing rapidly, many electronic artists have given their own sonic takes in the age-old argument of analog vs digital. Brooklyn's own Flash Trading belong to the camp of electronic musicians that seek to pay homage to classic analog sounds while pushing forward the genre through their bold songwriting. Their newest video for "Acceleration," off their upcoming EP The Golden Mile, which AdHoc is premiering today, plays with the line between the retro and modern by utilizing not only analog instruments, but also old webcams and video effects to film the music video. The video itself plays even further with this divide between the modern and the nostalgic through its depictions of the song lyrics written out on social media posts and text messages. In this way, even as the filtered bass, syncopated claps, and classic synth sounds that make up the track calls back to 80s and 90s electronica, Flash Trading reveals that through reproduction, all sound is ultimately timeless.
Today, AdHoc is premiering HDLSS's newest track "What Comes Next" from their forthcoming LP, Selections from DUMB, out 8/4. The track tackles minority othering, American secularism/anti-religiosity, and political/artistic responsibility. Masquerading as a dance song, the song's driving beat is clearly capable of moving one's body, but the HDLSS's lyrics are focused far more on moving one's mind. HDLSS's Fareed Sajan had this to say on the track:
"This song was born out of the incongruity of your insides not matching your outsides. That universal feeling that the way you look does not represent who you actually are. As a brown person, stereotypes have always followed me, and now, when Muslims are being demonized every day, it is even harder to escape. Hindus are perceived as Muslims. All Muslims are perceived on the same axis as extremists. Nuances get lost. It’s an issue any minority confronts, where an individual is forced to represent a swath of people, the Other, since most people do not know many South Asian, Latino, Black, LGBTQ etc. people... This puts people who have critiques of their own culture in a precarious position. And what does this do to a person within a faith who has doubts, or is still developing a faith, yet at the same time they are perceived to be a spokesperson? How does that affect his/her natural spiritual development? 'What Comes Next?' addresses that question by taking the perspective of someone grappling with being born into Islam, and fighting to understand religion in a nihilistic/narcissistic/consumer driven society."
When Danish Singer and Producer Anders Rhedin, better known as Dinner, began writing the tracks on his upcoming album, New Work, he looked to his favorite topic for inspiration: nonduality. New Work, out 9/8 via Captured Tracks, meditates on the spiritual concept through the influence of William Blake's Proverbs of Hell and his own change in lifestyle. Dinner decided that producing New Work required that he uproot himself and go to LA where he would work on the album with co-producer Josh da Costa (Regal Degal, Ducktails) and a host of American collaborators: Andy White (Tonstartssbandht), Charlie Hilton (Blouse), Rori McCarthy (Infinite Bisous, Connan Moccasin), Staz Lindes (Paranoyds), and Sean Nicholas Savage.
Of the new tracks on New Work, Dinner said, “A lot of my favorite music is American. I thought it would be fun to go a little bit less Euro on this one. I’m plenty Euro by myself, some might say. I wanted to add a different color.” But in the spirit of nonduality, "Un-American Woman," which we are premiering today, plays sonically with the apparent disconnect between the European and American pop sounds while ultimately revealing an underlying unity that exists between them both. Of the track, Dinner said, "Un-American Woman' is a song I wrote just before I stopped going out, just before I stopped sleeping around with women. The song seems to be about disillusionment and a fear of being stuck in a certain lifestyle. But it also touches upon the potential transformational aspects of suffering (or ‘Duhkha’ as the Buddhists say). Nothing’s black or white, good or bad. There is just life force moving. A constant movement. 'The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom,’ in the words of Blake. I lifted that line for the song, of course.”
On the video and it's choice of dreamy locales, Dinner said, “the director and I just got in a car and drove through the desert, from LA to Las Vegas, to meet with the ballet dancer Hank DeMarco (Mac Demarco’s younger brother) and a group of his dancer-friends at a motel room. And then we documented our little journey as we went along. We just followed our intuition…Vegas is a very special place. I feel it is a nexus of dark, dark energy, to me. It was very important that we go there of all places. Ballet and vegas - it had to be that combination for this song. We drank milk and smoked cigarettes with the dancers. That seemed very important to do, too."
Couch Slut made a name for themselves on their debut, My Life as a Woman, through their bone-shattering riffs and the exorcising vocals of singer Megan Osztrosits. Now, on sophomore album Contempt (out 7/28 via Gilead Media), the band seems to have crystallized, or perhaps cemented, into a being that is as hauntingly beautiful as it is abrasive and sludgy.
New single "Snake In The Grass" showcases an effortless mix of both visceral noise rock and haunting ambiance, a sound that is as angelic as it is satanic and which was only hinted at on tracks like "Rape Kit" off MLaaW. The track has all the hallmarks of Couch Slut as we know them, the same brute militancy of drummer Theo Nobel and bassist Kevin Hall's rhythm section, the controlled chaos of guitarist Kevin Wunderlich, the piercing wails of Osztrosits, even the band's masterful use of feedback to produce the white noise that bookends the track. But what stands out about "Snake In The Grass" in particular is Wunderlich's guitar solo after the 3-minute mark. Just as Osztrosits' voice has been rightly praised for its ability to cut through the gargantuan sound of her bandmates, Wunderlich's guitar solo, with its airiness and reverberation that would be more suited to ambient guitar music or arena rock, stands as a moment unheard in Couch Slut's discography thus far. It Wunderlich's work here that elevates the track from a discrete focus on the dark conditions of the earthly to a view that encompasses both heaven and hell.
We can't wait to hear what other surprises lurk, waiting to be let loose on Contempt.
RIPS' self-titled debut packs the kind of fervent rock energy that used to define New York City's music scene. It's impossible not to see the influence of bands such as Television, The Velvet Underground, and The Feelies on RIPS' sound, which puts them in a similar NYC rock revivalist territory to Parquet Courts (it is no surprise to see that Austin Brown of Parquet Courts produced RIPS' self-titled debut on Faux Discx). Yet, while the band wears their influences like signs for CBGB around their necks, their playlist below highlights a diversity of influences that lies well beyond those easy comparisons to early 70s and 80s NYC rock mainstays.
Listen to some of the band's favorite tracks below and come see them play Baby's All Right on July 1 for their record release show.